The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival is like home to me. It was the first international film festival to screen my first film (in 1991), it is the festival that has screened the largest number of my films (four titles), and the festival that awarded my film 1966, My Time in the Red Guards the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize in the 1993 Asia Program. All of this I consider the greatest honor for my documentary filmmaking. Never formally educated in cinema or the arts, it was at YIDFF ’91 when my first film Bumming in Beijing—The Last Dreamers was screened that I began to know about and learn about documentary through watching films and discussing them with others. Most importantly, when I returned to China and continued documentary filmmaking, I was able to feel I was no longer alone. Eighteen years after my first visit to Yamagata in 1991, it is simply an honor to be able to return to this place as a juror.
Born in 1956 in Yunnan Province, Wu is a pioneer of the independent Chinese documentary. In addition to directing documentaries himself, he has compiled his knowledge and information on the international documentary scene in books and publications released in China, and through workshops and screenings has led the documentary movement for over 15 years. Since 1994, Wu and his companion, dancer/choreographer Wen Hui, have jointly created dance productions, many of which have been performed overseas. In recent years, he has used his studio to actively support video productions by farmers and young Chinese. In 2005, he and Wen Hui founded the independent art space Caochangdi Workstation. In 2006 he produced the UN-sponsored China Villagers Documentary Project. Wu’s films include: Bumming in Beijing—The Last Dreamers (1990, YIDFF ’91), 1966, My Time in the Red Guards (1993, winner of the first Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at YIDFF ’93), At Home in the World (1995, YIDFF ’95), and the performance art documentary Dance with Farm Workers (2001).
CHINA / 2005 / Mandarin / Color / Video / 160 min
Director, Photography, Editing: Wu Wenguang
Post-production Assistants: Su Ming, Pei Yanfeng
Production Company, Source: Wu Documentary Studio
After failing the entrance examination for the Beijing Film Academy, Wang could not go back to his home town. Wu Wenguang relentlessly films this penniless man, who is forced to sleep outdoors and who is desperately trying to sell an autobiographical script. Becoming the subject of Wu’s film, has he found a medium to convey his story? Or is he being exploited as a spectacle? This film considers the sins and magic of cinema, interweaving scenes of an audition for amateur actresses and the daily life of a salesman of pirated DVDs. Directors known to YIDFF audiences appear in the film, including Zhu Chuan-ming (Beijing Cotton-Fluffer, YIDFF ’99) and Zhang Yuan (Crazy English, YIDFF ’99.)